Counties- Manukau's top club side is now Northern Districts' top club team. Manukau is the new holder of the Eric Petrie Trophy, and will go on to represent Northern Districts at the National Club Championship to be played at Cornwall Park, Auckland 5-10 April 2016.
Manukau had beaten Kamo (Northland) in the semi-finals and Greerton (Bay of Plenty) had qualified for the finals by defeating Hamilton Old Boys.
Both Manukau and Greerton have a sprinkling of Northern Districts senior and age group representatives, but it was an ex Knights player who made the most telling contribution to Manukau's wins over Kamo and Greerton. Brandon Hiini, former Knights and Canterbury all rounder, was the stand out performer in both games. Hiini has been off the scene in recent seasons but showed he retains his old skills. He was well supported by a more recent Knight in Nick Kelly, who took 4 wickets in the final, and by ND U19 representatives Sandeep Patel and Jarrod Halliday.
Northern Districts A players Tom McRury and Tom Clout led the way for Greerton, but in the end Manukau were comfortable winners.
Manukau 210 Brandon Hiini 48, Sandeep Patel 46, Shalen Singh 25, Tom Clout 3-41 beat Greerton 127 Tom McRury 47, Nick Kelly 4-21, Jarrod Halliday 3-27, Sandeep Patel 2-36 by 83 runs.
Knights 157-7 in 20 overs (Daryl Mitchell 49, Nick Kelly 45, Ollie Newton (3-26) beat Wellington Firebirds (Adam Hose 52, Kyle Abbott 2-19, Daryl Mitchell 2-19) by 12 runs at Basin Reserve, Wellington.
The first and second placed BK Super Smash teams produced a tense contest on a magnificent Wellington afternoon that went to the last over. Daryl Mitchell made a huge contribution with 49 runs and two early wickets as well as classy death bowling, with quality back up by debutant South African Kyle Abbott and Corey Anderson at the bowling crease.
The Knights extend their lead at the top of the table, moving to 20 points from six matches and look very strong for the playoffs.
The Knights, missing key players like Scott Kuggeleijn, Dean Brownlie and Anton Devcich made a bright start through Nick Kelly (45) and Daryl Mitchell, before losing wickets.
Ollie Newton (3-26) and Jeetan Patel (2-27) both showed how to get the most from a surface playing slightly slow, using all their variations to draw false shots and reaped the rewards.
Mitchell repeated his Hagley Oval trick of holding the Knights' innings together, counter-attacking with Daniel Flynn (25) to make 55 for the 5th wicket.
Mitchell was caught by Hamish Bennett one short of his half century, before canny death bowling from the Firebirds saw more wickets fall and no late fireworks from the visitors, who finished on 157-7.
South African import Kyle Abbot started with a wicket maiden, picking up danger man Michael Bracewell misjudging a lap shot for nine in the second over. That man Mitchell then got Conway caught at point for 14, and followed up by bowling debutant Troy Johnson for four.
Adam Hose (52) and Tom Blundell consolidated with a partnership of 64 that edged the Firebirds cautiously closer to the target. Abbot came back to trap Hose LBW, then Corey Anderson got Blundell caught in the deep for 38 and Logan van Beek for two in the same over with 27 still needed late on.
With 19 needed from the last, Michael Pollard and Ollie Newton found Mitchell's slower balls and off cutters elusive, falling short in the long shadows to give the Knights the win by 12 runs.
The Knights have further bolstered stocks with a star international signing for tomorrow's Super Smash match against the Wellington Firebirds.
South African Kyle Abbott has joined the Knights ranks after the departure of Chris Jordan and is with the squad for the rest of the Super Smash campaign.
Former international Abbott brings a big reputation with him in all forms of cricket, including T20, where he has gained valuable experience across a number of leagues.
Within the last year, Abbott has played for Hampshire (England's Vitality Blast), Khulna Titans (Bangladesh Premier League), Lahore Qalandars (Pakistan Super League) and most recently, the Durban Heat (South African Mzansi Super League).
Abbott also has Indian Premier League experience, spending time with the King's XI Punjab.
"It's great to be in New Zealand and I'm looking forward to playing in the Super Smash," Abbott said on his arrival in the country.
Despite coming into a league that is already five matches old where other players have found their feet, Abbott is confident he will be able to adapt quickly.
"The body feels good and it helps that I'm already in T20 mode after my stint with the Durban Heat."
The goal for Abbott is to help build on the solid foundation that has been laid through the Knights achieving four victories from five matches."The team has done so well already, I'm just hoping I can contribute and help push us into the finals."
The Knights are incredibly pleased to be able to call on the services of the Burger King Super Smash Player of the Season for 2017/18, Anton Devcich, for the upcoming Super Smash campaign.
Earlier in the year Devcich declined a contract with Northern Districts to allow him to pursue cricketing opportunities overseas. Devcich has since returned to the ND set-up in an uncontracted capacity.
In his time away from ND, Devcich has forged a successful path around the world, playing in the Global T20 Canada, Afghanistan Premier League and Caribbean Premier League. A stint in the Big Bash League with Sydney Thunder and the Pakistan Super League with the Lahore Qalandars will follow Devcich's Knights commitments.
"My goal is to represent the BLACKCAPS and to do that I need to improve and gain more experience in pressure situations," Devcich said of his decision to head overseas.
"I am also very happy and privileged to continue my cricket career in New Zealand with Northern Districts for another season. Although I am not contracted, I am still extremely dedicated to the Association, they have been supportive of my decision and as always, lead the way in all aspects of cricket in New Zealand."
The ability to call on Devcich's ability and experience will be invaluable for the Knights as they seek to retain their Super Smash title. Last season, Devcich was the competition's top run scorer with 343 runs at a strike-rate of 168 and took the second-highest number of wickets with 15, at an RPO of 6.39.
"I'm feeling good, I'm ready to help the Knights defend our title, and I'm hoping my performances will be enough to earn me a BLACKCAPS recall."
Devcich has represented ND since 2004, playing 84 T20 matches along the way, which has seen him score the most runs for the Knights (1845) and take the most wickets (55).
The Knights are New Zealand's 2018 Burger King Super Smash champions, and they mopped it up in a phenomenal style with an utterly one-sided nine-wicket victory over the Central Stags.
The Knights will be chasing a home grand final and top spot of the Burger King Super Smash on Sunday when they face the Canterbury Kings. A win will award the Knights 4 points to finish on 30 points, clear of the field and securing a home grand final on Saturday 20th January at Seddon Park. A loss will mean that all eyes will turn to the Aces vs Volts match, also on Sunday. A win for the Aces (24 points) will secure the Aces a home Grand Final and the Knights will then host the elimination final on Wednesday 17th January at Seddon Park.
The Knights last took home the Super Smash title in 2013/14.
Knights vs Canterbury Kings:
Dean Brownlie ©, Bay of Plenty
Brent Arnel, Hamilton
Anton Devcich, Hamilton
Daniel Flynn, Bay of Plenty
Brett Hampton, Bay of Plenty
Chris Jordan, Import
Scott Kuggeleijn, Hamilton
Nick Kelly, Counties Manukau
Daryl Mitchell, Hamilton
Brett Randell, Northland
Tim Seifert, Waikato Valley
Ish Sodhi, Counties Manukau
BJ Watling, Hamilton
The final 12 will be confirmed on Sunday.
The Burger King Super Smash Knights vs Canterbury Kings, Seddon Park, Hamilton, Sunday 14th January, match starts 2.00pm, gates open 1.00pm.